Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy and Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.
Release Date: July 19th, 1991 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Pete Hewitt Actors: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin, William Sadler, Joss Ackland, Pam Grier, Amy Stock-Poynton, Annette Azcuy, Sarah Trigger
s Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are about to reach their second crucial turning point in their destiny – which significantly affects the future – a group of terrorists from San Dimas, California in the year 2691 A.D. plot to destroy them in the past. Meanwhile, time-traveling instructor Rufus (George Carlin) conducts a colorful classroom, bringing with him special guests from throughout history – such as Bach and Faith No More guitarist James Martin. But his presentation is interrupted by anarchical rebel leader Nomolos De Nomolos (Joss Ackland), or “Chuck,” who reveals his plan to send evil automaton replicas of Bill and Ted back in time to murder their counterparts – and alter the course of history forever.
And that pivotal moment is at the upcoming 4th annual Battle of the Bands competition, where Bill and Ted – and their ancient English princess girlfriends (Sarah Trigger and Annette Azcuy) – are scheduled to perform in their band Wyld Stallyns. With all the time-traveling shenanigans, the hapless, heedless duo will have to avoid a futuristic assassination if they want to save their legacies, their lives, their babes, and the day. “Dude, I got a very bad feeling.”
The humor has stepped up a notch, staying in the same vein as before but amplifying the weirdness and randomness. Before, the filmmakers couldn’t be certain their brand of comedy would work; but with the commercial success of the original, it’s obvious that audiences have latched onto the strange blend of adolescent pranks, stoner dialogue, and jaunty fantasy. Unfortunately, there’s a sense of free range here as well, where every joke was thrown in, ignoring any sort of editing eye; whether or not the gags work (or have much hope of working), if they were devised they were executed.
As a result, the budget looks as if it has increased significantly, but much of the polish has decreased correspondingly. As the costumes and sets have become more elaborate, the gimmicks feel more spontaneous, absurd, and haphazardly conceived. This follow-up adventure has minimal cohesion; things just sort of happen, as if improvised on the spot. This is never more apparent than when the titular personas wander through their own personal versions of hell, resembling something out of the “Twilight Zone,” which boasts interesting visuals but adds nothing to the story, the character development, or the primary plight. A major subplot also centers on a game with the Grim Reaper (William Sadler) – perhaps a spoof of “The Seventh Seal” (a reference the target audience would be unlikely to recognize) – which is similarly superfluous yet moderately more humorous.
With its greater resources, the film also enjoys more sets, more props (and costumes and Muppet-like animatronics), and more computer animation – none of which increases the quality or the entertainment value. Even the story has become so complicated that, despite the standard running time, it feels as if hours longer than it is. Still, Bill and Ted retain some of their charm, predominantly through their scatterbrained optimism and general imperviousness to psychological harm. These dunces can’t be kept down or bummed out; they have an unshakable, can-do attitude that is continually engaging, even if this sequel proves that the filmmakers have already run out of ways to use them.
– Mike Massie